Goa, a state with a rich footballing heritage, is awaiting the chance to host international football again. The Goa Football Association (GFA) has requested the All India Football Federation to shift the submission deadline for their bid to host one of India’s home matches during the FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers.

The AIFF is enthusiastic about the offers to host the FIFA World Cup 2026 and Asian Cup 2027 qualifiers. Delhi, Assam, Odisha, Kerala, and Bengal states have already submitted their applications. Reportedly, Goa will soon join this list.

AIFF Secretary General Shaji Prabhakaran said the qualifiers will take place at three locations. He said: “We want to host the matches at the best possible venues, there are certain circumstances to consider before making a decision.”

The GFA plans to host the qualifying match in March. In this game, India will face the winner of the Mongolia and Afghanistan playoff game. State associations are eager to host games against Asian champions Qatar on November 21, or Kuwait, on June 6, 2024.

Goa’s desire to host these matches is fueled by its long absence from international football. The last international game hosted in Goa occurred in 2018. That day, India played Myanmar to a thrilling 2-2 draw during a qualifying match for the Asian Cup.

A senior GFA official expressed the state’s intention: “It’s been too long since Goa has hosted an international football game. The November game against Qatar will come too soon, while June is a bit risky since early rains are possible. It will be best to host the game in March, even though it will be the least glamorous clash. We are waiting for confirmation from the state government.”

In the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) second round of qualifying matches, India is in Group A alongside Qatar and Kuwait. Either Afghanistan or Mongolia will complete the group. Goa’s bid to host these matches is a testament to its enduring passion for the beautiful game.

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